We are in Rwanda this year to provide further support for those Local Partners who were trained in 2010 and have been running therapeutic music programmes at ‘Ngwino Nawe’ and ‘Nkanka’. Both centres work with children with a wide range of disabilities and special needs.
On the first day we observed a session at Nkanka ran by one of the Local Partners. It was a large group of 14 children, many of whom have hearing impairments as well as additional needs. He worked sensitively and gently as he made sure he chose musical activities which were appropriate for all the group. Each member had a turn at being the ‘leader’ and it was heartening and fun to watch as each child eagerly anticipated their turn. He explained afterwards that due to low staffing levels (there are currently 2 teachers responsible for 170 children throughout the week) he found that running a music group first thing in the morning, every morning, meant that the children had an opportunity to release some of their energy in a fun way. He described in detail how some of the shyer children had gained more confidence over time and how some of the more frustrated, agitated children had become calmer and had learnt to listen and wait their turn. He felt that the music sessions had a positive effect on the group dynamics and he had also noticed how the children were able to concentrate for longer periods in the lessons after the morning music sessions.
The music sessions far exceeded our expectations as did our Local Partner’s observations and the benefits he was able to describe afterwards. The children’s expressions of sheer enjoyment during the sessions were a joy to watch. There was no mistaking the positive impact regular music sessions had had at ‘Nkanka’ although the extremely low staff to children ratio is a huge challenge.
Jane, Nicky and Caroline